Seminole Tribe quietly re-launches online sports betting in Florida
On Tuesday morning, online sports betting made a quiet return to Florida, although its availability remains limited. The Seminole Tribe, which currently holds exclusive rights to sports betting in the state, re-launched its mobile app without any prior warning or fanfare. The re-launched app is only accessible to customers with pre-existing accounts who signed up before legal challenges in December 2021 led to its temporary shutdown.
Gary Bitner, a spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe, announced the limited access to the Hard Rock Bet platform for existing Florida customers. This move is seen as a test of the platform’s functionality.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in late October lifted a hold on earlier legal challenges to the tribe’s sports betting operations. Subsequently, the tribe announced the start of in-person sports betting, as well as the introduction of craps and roulette, at its three South Florida casinos on December 7th. This was followed by the commencement of similar activities at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa on December 8th.
When the in-person betting was announced, a Seminole spokesperson stated that there was no information available regarding mobile sports betting. However, the sudden relaunch of the mobile app has caught many by surprise.
The future of sports betting in Florida is still being contested in the courts, with another petition filed with the Florida Supreme Court by parimutuel facilities. This legal challenge argues that the agreement between the Seminole Tribe and the state is illegal, as it violates a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 2018. This amendment mandates that any gambling expansion must be approved by voters.
Additionally, there are concerns about the legality of the mobile app, as it can be used anywhere in the state and does not require bettors to be on tribal land. These issues highlight the complexities and controversies surrounding the re-introduction of online sports betting in Florida.